Coastal Carolina

A piñata and a cloak? CCU’s coaches are getting creative to motivate and reward players

The Coastal Carolina football team has broken out some props early this season.

It appears the team will have some kind of victory symbol or trophy for each win this year that will be present for the post-game locker room celebrations, and the team has introduced a defensive turnover cape.

The University of Miami made turnover props trendy in 2017 with the Turnover Chain, a necklace awarded to a member of the defense that comes up with a fumble or interception.

Other teams have copied the idea, including Tennessee’s turnover trash can, Memphis’ turnover robe, Tulane’s turnover beads necklace, and Moorehead State’s turnover cane.

Coastal has introduced the Game of Throne Turnover Cloak. The black cape has patches of fur on the shoulders and is modeled after the cloak worn by Jon Snow, formerly King in the North and heir to the iron throne in HBO’s Game of Thrones series.

Senior cornerback Chandler Kryst had the pleasure of wearing it twice Saturday after a pair of interceptions in a 12-7 win over Kansas.

“I’m not huge on Game of Thrones but they gave us a little breakdown of it and basically you’re a king if you have it on, so I want it,” senior defensive lineman Sterling Johnson said.

Johnson said the cloak was the idea of strength coach Chad Scott’s and one other staff member, and was made by defensive coordinator Chad Staggs’ wife Kelli. It goes along with CCU’s defensive nickname “Black Storm.”

Coastal celebrated its Saturday win by breaking a Kansas Jayhawk piñata in the locker room, and senior tight end Shadell Bell said coaches share the responsibility of producing a different trophy each week. It is special teams coach Curt Baldus for this week’s game against FCS opponent Norfolk State.

But the Chants have to win to be presented the trophy. They didn’t see one after a 30-23 loss to Eastern Michigan in the season opener.

“It’s just a mindset in the locker room and for the coaching staff just to play for something each game. You want to treat each game like a championship,” Bell said. “The first week we had a trophy but didn’t get to do it so we didn’t want to go two weeks without getting a trophy and celebrating in the locker room. The piñata was great. We got to smash it and we’re looking forward to another one this week.”

CCU head coach Jamey Chadwell wouldn’t disclose where the team found a Jayhawk piñata last week.

“That’s a secret that we only know in our room. It was something one of our coaches came up with and figured it out,” Chadwell said. “I didn’t know it was going to make some national news but it did so we’ll have to make sure we’re a little bit more secretive the next time we do something like that.”

Chadwell also led the team through a new fight song in the locker room after the game.

Injury bug biting

Coastal Carolina will likely be without starting junior linebacker and defensive leader Silas Kelly, junior starting safety Enock Makonzo, starting offensive linemen Seth Harrell and Steven Bedosky, and starting senior wide receiver and kick returner Ky’Jon Tyler on Saturday.

The injuries are already mounting up on the Chants through just two weeks of the season, and they were already without depth in most positions.

Kelly, who has been second on the team in tackles in both 2018 and ’19, is expected to be lost for several weeks and possibly the rest of the season. He has an apparent left knee injury to go along with a broken right hand suffered in the opener.

Both Harrell, a sophomore guard, and Bedosky, a junior tackle, suffered leg injuries on Saturday and could miss multiple weeks. Makonzo suffered a leg injury Saturday and is expected to miss multiple games, and Tyler, who missed the Kansas game with a high ankle sprain, is expected to miss a second game.

“We’re dropping like flies right now, especially up front offensive line-wise, where we’re thin at as well. We’ll be without two starters there for a while,” Chadwell said. “The victory didn’t come without a price. It came with a big price in certain areas of our football team. We’re going to have to have some players step up.”

Junior Sam Thompson and freshman Isaac Owusu-Appiah are candidates to get starts on the offensive line, senior Laqavious Paul and sophomore Kameron Burton are likely to start at linebacker and safety, respectively, and junior T’Qele Holmes may get his second consecutive start at receiver.

James back on teal

Norfolk State has several transfers from FBS schools, including wide receiver Da’Kendall James from Coastal, where he redshirted as a freshman last year.

James, who is 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, played in three games at CCU but had no catches and suffered an ankle injury that led to his redshirt, and he was one of at least seven CCU players who entered the NCAA’s new transfer portal after last season.

James made an immediate impact with five receptions for 101 yards in Norfolk State’s near upset of FBS foe Old Dominion in Week 1. The Spartans lost 24-21. With more attention on him in Week 2, he had two receptions for 13 years and a touchdown in last week’s win over Virginia State.

“DK has been great for us,” said fifth-year Spartans coach Latrell Scott, who recruited James out of neighboring Portsmouth Christian (Va.) High. “He gives us a home run threat. He has the ability to run by people and catch deep down field balls and he’s been a great young man off the field.”

Home sweet home

The CCU players and staff were relieved to learn on Friday that the campus was reopening after Hurricane Dorian and they would be allowed to return to campus and their housing.

The Chants spent last week in Greenville before flying to Kansas on Friday. The team was forced to spend three weeks off campus last season in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

“The biggest cheer they had was on Friday before we left when we told them they would be able to go back to Myrtle Beach. They were pretty excited about that because they were tired of staying in a hotel,” said Chadwell, whose team showed resiliency by winning Saturday.

“I think it shows you those guys believe in each other,” Chadwell continued. “We had a lot of excuses if we couldn’t win the game, but at the end of the day our guys found a way. I like the resiliency of them, I like how they roll with the punches a little bit.”

Another POW

After not having a Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week all of last season, Coastal has had two in two weeks.

Following up Massimo Biscardi’s special teams honor in Week 1, Kryst earned the conference’s Defensive Player of the Week award by matching his career interceptions total over his first four years in just one night with his two picks.

Kryst and the CCU defense held Kansas, which was averaging 241 passing yards entering the game, to just 107 yards through the air and an average of only 5.6 passing yards per reception.

Kryst’s first interception came at CCU’s 4-yard line in the second quarter and his second came early in the second half. He returned it 25 yards to help set up what would prove to be the game-winning touchdown. Following his second pick, the Jayhawks attempted just four passes over the game’s final 26:25.

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